Archbishop Welby honours pilgrim bishops

The Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr Donal McKeown, and the former Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, are among more than 30 people recognised in this year’s Lambeth Awards which were announced this morning by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The awards acknowledge “outstanding contributions to the Church and wider society”. In total, 32 awards were announced to people from fields including evangelism, the Religious life, safeguarding, ecumenism, theology and interfaith relations.

Bishop Good and Bishop McKeown have each been given a Langton Award for Community Service. The citation accompanying Bishop Good’s said it was “for giving strategic leadership to the local church to engage fully with the community, throughout his ordained ministry, most of which was in the complex community of Northern Ireland.” Bishop McKeown’s citation said his award was “for his exceptional and sustained dedication to the cause of peace and social cohesion in an environment of traditional interdenominational tension.”

The other recipients, this year, include people from New Zealand, Kenya, the USA and the UK. The awards are usually presented at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace, but this year’s ceremony has had to be cancelled because of Covid-19.

Archbishop Welby said: “This is the fifth year of the Lambeth Awards, and I am constantly impressed and humbled by the work that recipients have accomplished, sometimes in the most challenging circumstances. Not all are followers of Jesus Christ, but all contribute through their faith to the mutual respect and maintenance of human dignity which are so vital to spiritual and social health.”

Bishop Good said: “I am humbled and grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for honouring me with a Lambeth Award for Community Service, and doubly blessed to receive this honour alongside my friend in Christ, Bishop Donal McKeown. This simultaneous recognition of the work of two bishops is a source of great encouragement.

“The pursuit of peace is a noble endeavour, but the journey is frequently challenging and can feel lonely. I’m thankful for having had Bishop Donal as a trusted companion in what became for us a joint quest.

“+Donal and I do what we do because of a sense of calling. Jesus told his disciples to love one another, and that is a command we have sought to live up to and to share as best we can, whatever the cost. In this, we have been privileged to follow in the footsteps of inspirational predecessors.

“I hope that the Archbishop’s generous gesture towards us will inspire peacemakers elsewhere in God’s Kingdom.

“To God be the glory.”

Bishop McKeown said the Lambeth Awards would serve as an encouragement to Church and wider civic society.

“It is a privilege to receive this Award along with Bishop Ken,” Bishop McKeown said. “He laboured long and faithfully in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard. Anything I have done in my few years here was built on the foundations that others had laid before my arrival.

“As the disciples on the road to Emmaus discovered, the Truth can be encountered by those who walk together. +Ken and I sought to walk together as a symbol of the pilgrim Church, making space for Christ to make our hearts burn within us.

“Community is built by good relationships – and by emphasising our long, shared history rather than our more recent divided past. Along with the other main Churches in the area, we tried to look at the common heritage of St Columba. That enabled us all to look together at some of the recent contentious centenaries so that our young people could face the future with hope rather than fear.

“It was wonderful to welcome Archbishop Welby to Derry in February 2018. I trust that this Award will be an encouragement to both Church and wider civic society. And I look forward to building on the existing links with Canterbury long into the future.”

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Most Rev John McDowell, led the tributes to the two Bishops following news of their awards. “These Awards are an eloquent tribute to two good and faithful servants of Christ’s Church on earth. +Donal and +Ken have modelled an example of discipleship and Christian witness that should serve as an encouragement and inspiration to us all – in the Church and in society at large.”

The current Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, joined in the tributes. “I congratulate Bishop Ken and Bishop Donal on receiving their Lambeth Awards,” Bishop Forster said. “They have been hard-earned and are richly deserved for the bishops’ efforts – both individually and in partnership – to heal division and build bridges in our community. They are a fitting reward, too, for the Bishops’ constant and faithful witness to Christ’s gospel.

“In the same way that they have been inspired by their predecessors, Bishop Donal and Bishop Ken have set a towering example of Christian Church leadership for all of us who follow, for which I thank God.

“I congratulate them both. I applaud the Archbishop of Canterbury, too, for his perceptiveness and generosity in acknowledging the often-unsung work that is being done by the Churches here to promote peace and reconciliation.”